In the real world, amnesia is rare, and it can last anywhere from days to a lifetime. It comes in two flavors: psychogenic amnesia, which comes from a psychological trauma, and organic amnesia, which comes from brain damage. In the former case, the sufferer might get all or part of his memories back through adequate therapy and rest; in the latter, even if he might get back some pieces of information, he most probably will never recover the big picture.
On TV, amnesia is just a plot device for the current episode or movie or whatever, and it's pretty much always organic and originated by some kind of funny injury or physical impact. Everything and anything the character knows about him or herself may be lost, or just the last 24 hours may disappear — it's completely dependent on the plot. This is often used to avoid As You Know exposition by making it so the character doesn't know things they should be familiar with; whether it's actually an improvement is down to the individual viewer.
If the victim recovers, it usually occurs by the end of the episode, with the character simply bonking their noggin a second time (conveniently ignoring the fact that this is likely to make things worse, not better), or with some Applied Phlebotinum from the resident scientist/physician (which ignores that, as said above, the bonking type is precisely the kind of amnesia that rarely get better in real life). On the other hand, if the victim does not recover by the end of the episode, they almost certainly never will and those memories will be gone forever.
Do note that TV usually uses retrograde amnesia (the inability to recollect memories from before the head bump) but almost never uses the actually more organically realistic anterograde amnesia (the inability to create memories after the bump). While there have been a few examples recently, they have mostly been due to the popularity of the movie Memento. Even when it does appear in a show, what's depicted usually doesn't come close to the actual disorder. For a realistic breakdown, read up on the case of Clive Wearing.
Expect a Non Sequitur, *Thud* before being out cold.
- 7 Seeds has Hana have a bout of amnesia, not remembering how she got separated from the other teams and came to be on a different island. She does wonder if she bonked her head somewhere. She also doesn't remember that Ango tried to rape her, nor that she was sucked into a whirlpool and was underwater for several days, before resurfacing. A few chapters later, though, she just gets all the memories back and there are no repercussions or after-effects.
- In Bleach, Nel lost her memory after receiving a blow to the head from Nnoitra.
- And being turned into a child. This, from what we know about Hollows, is something Nel never experienced as a Hollow, and may be one of the reasons for the problem. It is implied that the incident occurred years before the recovery.
- Dragon Ball's treatment of amnesia seems closer to reality than most: Goku got amnesia as a child when he fell out of his Grandpa's hands and down a steep gorge. He never recovered from it, and whenever a character would refer to it, they would almost always mention how Goku nearly died from the fall.
- Another realistic treatment is Piccolo's, or rather, Kami's memories. After arriving on Earth in a spaceship as a child, he had absolutely no memories of who he is or what he's doing there - he speculates that he probably hit his head. He also never recovers from it, and unlike Goku he never even finds out what his real name was (not that the reader ever finds out, either; he's called "the son of Katatz" by the Grand Elder or, after Piccolo and Kami re-merge into a single being, he calls himself "the Nameless Namekian", but continues to go by "Piccolo" for convenience).
- Some DBZ video games have re-used this plot device for What If? stories; Budokai Tenkaichi 2 has it happen to Raditz while Supersonic Warriors 2 does it to Broly. Both eventually get their memories back, but have been changed for the better thanks to their time among the heroes (Raditz sacrifices himself to prevent the other Saiyans from attacking Earth, while Broly stays Mr. Satan's friend and student — but still gets fired up when Goku is around).
- Ga-Rei sees Kagura lose much of her memory within a period of time. She eventually recovers it in a matter of chapters.
- ef: A Tale of Memories: One of the stories is about Chihiro, who can't remember anything beyond 13 hours in the past. This leads to one very dramatic scene, when she passes out for a longer period of time and can't remember why she's so much older and lacks one eye.
- In Chapter 35 of Haou Airen, Kurumi falls down a flight of stairs and loses all her memories of the events of the whole series. She gets them all back just as easily in Chapter 43.
- This trope is the central premise of One Week Friends, where a girl named Fujimiya Kaori will lose all memories of her friend after a week.
- A number of characters suffer from this in the Dating Sim adaptation Kanon. Specifically, Makoto and Yuuichi. Makoto because she's a fox turned into a human, so she had to sacrifice her memories and the remaining years of her life to make the transition and Yuuichi because he blocked out the very traumatic event in his past, and lost all memories of his prior trip to the town, seven years ago.
- Subverted in Mahou Sensei Negima!, where Yue seems to have this, until we find out that someone accidentally gave her Laser-Guided Amnesia about her life, and was too embarrassed to say so, so she just told Yue that she bumped her head.
- Supposedly happens to Kaito in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, but it's revealed early on that it wasn't a bump at all.
- Midori Days has a slightly more realistic example. A bump on the head eliminates a minor character's knowledge of Seiji's secret. Not only was this unnecessary to resolve the story, it also alters his personality a bit. The brain is a fragile thing.
- The twins in Ouran High School Host Club attempt to invoke this on Kasanoda by hitting him on the head with a baseball bat. Kyoya stops them, much to their annoyance.
- In the Pokémon episode "A Scare to Remember", Pikachu gets amnesia after a Team Rocket attack and Meowth convinces him to be a part of Team Rocket. Pikachu gets cured after taking a long drop into a river with Ash. Doubles as a Tear Jerker.
- Ranma ½: Chinese Girl Shampoo, in her first story, reveals she has a Pressure Points technique that lets her modify memories; she not only manages to make Akane Tendo forget who Ranma Saotome is, but also puts a kind of block on her mind so she literally cannot form any mental association with him- which leads to her repeatedly asking who Ranma is after he just told her his name a few minutes ago, much to Ranma's annoyance. Fortunately, Akane Tendo is such a Tsundere that the technique gets broken by having Ranma mock her until her sheer rage breaks down the blocks. For added Martial Arts and Crafts appeal, the actual technique looks like the user is performing haircare on their victim; as the points (understandably) are on the head, and certain herbal extracts are needed to bring out the full effect, it's easiest to disguise the manuever as washing hair.
- Shinnosuke, a boy from the forest of Ryugenzawa, is forgetful to a crippling degree. Among the things he's forgotten: his own grandpa, the location of the traps he has set for the animals of the forest, people he's met only minutes ago and the conversations he's had with them, and having saved a young Akane's life ten years ago. When he meets her again (believing it's the first time) he endears himself to her by writing her name all over the house so he won't forget again. Unfortunately, he later forgets having confessed his love to her also, but not the love itself.
- Rumbling Hearts: Haruka suffers from anterograde amnesia after being hit by a car. This is on top of the three years she missed while comatose. This could be considered a subversion, as it takes most of the length of the series for her to recover.
- In Elfen Lied, Lucy has this. While she can sometimes remember herself, most of the time she is reduced to a powerless, infantlike Blank Slate that knows nothing about proper behavoir, the bathroom, or the Japanese language. Then again, considering her life, heavy braindamage might not be so bad.
- The cause of Elie's amnesia in Rave Master is unknown, with most likely causes being magic overload, Sieg blowing up the building she was in, and a 50 year long deep sleep. It takes most of the manga (roughly thirty volumes) to recover her memories, which is the focal point several times. When she finally regains her memories she gets amnesia again roughly a week later simply because she doesn't want to remember a certain death. When said death turns out to have not been real, she regains her memories again.
- Celty from Durarara!! lost some memories from over a hundred years ago, possibly due to losing her head. There's only that thought and one of Shinra's theories to go by and the head loss seems to be the most sensible explanation.
- In Naruto, a repentant bandit fell from a cliff and became an amnesiac as a result, earning him the nickname "Menma" in Konoha. Shortly afterward events in the village reminded him of his past as a bandit, but he chose to keep his returned memories to himself.
- Words Worth: This happens to Prince Astral after Maria uses her magic to banish him into the future in a fit of rape-induced rage, affecting him to the point where in later episodes he even participates in an attack against his former kingdom.
- In the 100th episode of Sgt. Frog, everyone in the Hinata household at the time when a laser beam hit the house. They try to figure out who they are by trying out several identities. But the amnesia couldn't have come at a worse time as the Keroro Platoon's underground HQ has started the countdown to self-destruction.
- Kurando from Popcorn Avatar reverts to having the memories of a 3rd-grader after Lisa throws him to the floor a little too hard.
- At the end of the Area 88 manga, Shin sustains injuries after an aerial duel with Kanzaki. He suffers amnesia from his injuries and trauma and cannot remember the events of the previous few years. On the bright side, his amnesia provides a relationship reset button with his fiancee Ryoko.
- In the 35th episode of Go! Princess Pretty Cure, Prince Kanata, who disappeared while helping the Cures escape from DysDark, is located in Yumegehama after being found by the local violin shop owner, having lost his memories during the escape. While pieces of his memory do peek through from time to time, he has yet to recover them fully, subverting the trope for now.
- My Monster Secret: Referenced. Aizawa, an alien investigating the Earth for her highly advanced species, believes (thanks to reading manga) that humans can have their memories erased by blunt force trauma. We have no idea if this would actually work, because everyone refuses to let her use her "memory erasure device" on them because it's just an ordinary hammer (or her alternative, a shovel).
- In one chapter of Shinryaku! Ika Musume (and in one episode of season 2 in the anime) Squid Girl loses her memory after she falls down some stairs. Eiko and the others try to restore Squid Girl's memory, but things do not work out well. That is where the hat Squid Girl has comes into play with another role. One may recall at one point that according to Squid Girl, if her hat is taken off, she dies. That is what restores Squid Girl's memory at the end of the chapter/episode when Squid Girl tries to take it off, and everything is back to normal.
- In Astérix and the Big Fight, Getafix becomes amnesiac (and crazy) after getting accidentally hit by one of Obelix's menhirs. When they take Getafix to another druid to be treated, Obelix demonstrates how it happened by tapping the druid with the menhir, leaving him in the same condition as Getafix. Later, Obelix gets the bright idea of curing Getafix with another tap on the head... just as Getafix manages to cure himself. Fortunately, he's still all right — but unaware of intervening events, so he dumps out the potion that cured him before the other druid can have a taste.
- Lampshaded in the comic SODA: the main character gets Laser-Guided Amnesia after a car accident. When he comes back home, he watches a TV special on the subject which explains that it's incredibly rare and almost never happens - except in fiction written by people who "lack imaginative ideas".
- It happens to Calculus in the Tintin story "Destination Moon" after he falls down a ladder. It's hypothesized that a shock may bring his memory back, so Captain Haddock tries to do so, but ends up failing. He finally gets so fed up with it that he mentions that Calculus is "acting the goat" (an expression that previously acted as a Berserk Button for Calculus), which gets Calculus so angry that his memory returns.
- The "bump on the head" concept is taken to its logical extreme in a Groo the Wanderer storyline where the various antagonists, some who need Groo to keep his memory, and some who need him to forget, literally turn Groo's memory on and off by hitting him repeatedly on the head.
- Inverted in Paperinik New Adventures: Photomas is one of the best lawyers of XIII century, but he can't remember names (including the protagonist's) and words. However, after a bad hit on the head he suddenly remembers everything. Unfortunately it's explained it won't last.
- In a "Numbskulls" comic in The Beezer, "Our Man" gets a bump on his head, which creates a dent in Brainy's filing cabinet that means he can't open the drawer that contains Our Man's name and address. Another bump unsticks the drawer, with the passerby who's trying to help saying that it's amazing how that works.
- Averted in Hunting the Unicorn. Blaine gets concussed and starts rambling nonsense, then regains awareness with no memory of the past half-hour. This is bad, because he got locked in his stalker's basement with Wes and David. In the next chapter when he calls home for help, he ends up crying and calling his father out on his Parental Neglect. ...Except he's actually talking to his Parental Substitute Greg. And now he's wandering around the city, terrified and incoherent.
- In With Strings Attached, the Baravadans have liquor called Thief. Drinking Thief gradually removes your memories until you barely have enough left to find your way home. The effects wear off overnight, or when something reminds you of something. Paul drinks a lot of it to forget his emotional pain during his Depression Era, though it always comes back full force in the morning.
- Kurogane suffers a realistic variant after a roof falls on him in Shatterheart. While he initially lost his memories of his dimension traveling, he quickly regains them after seeing Syaoran triggered his memories. He only forgets his fight with Syaoran which lead to his concussion in the first place.
- In Tealove's Steamy Adventure, the protagonists meet Libra Ace in a cave, and Libra can't remember any of her life from before she entered the cave. (In fact, she thinks the outside world doesn't even exist.) However, an offhand mention of the white dragon bush—whose flower caused Libra's amnesia in the first place—causes her to abruptly regain all of her memories.
- In How I Became Yours, Azula is given total amnesia by a poison, though she can still function on an almost adult level (she keeps all her language skills, for example). The amnesia also gives her a personality wipe.
- In Damned If You Do Damned If You Don't Voldemort gets amnesia after hitting his head on a counter in Gregorovitch's shop.
- In Forget Me Not Harry has extremely severe anterograde amnesia, to the point where he doesn't remember anything that happens after age nineteen for longer than a day.
- In Hawk-Eyed Charlie Harry's grandfather Charlus Potter lost his memory during a Death Eater attack that destroyed his house and killed his wife. The goblins give him a bare outline of his past when he takes an eleven-year-old Harry school shopping for Hogwarts.
- Finding Nemo has a surprising twofer subversion of standard Hollywood amnesia. Dory is one of very few fictional characters to suffer from anterograde amnesia, in that she has profound difficulty retaining new memories without constant repetition. She also never really finds a cure, but learns to deal with it by finding a constant in her life to serve as an anchor. Though frequently Played for Laughs, it's also somewhat heartbreaking at times, and has actually been cited as a very accurate portrayal of the condition by mental health professionals.
- In Anastasia, the main character has amnesia and gradually gains back her memories as she's given and seeing things from her past life. What brings her fully back is a music box that plays a song. She is shown falling over and hitting her head as a child - and she later describes herself as being found wandering around Russia.
- Paris, Texas has its main character, Travis, walking around in the desert with seemingly no recollection of what his life was like four years prior; he remembers how to drive and who his brother is, but has no idea why he bought a certain plot of land or what his son looks like. His memory gets better after spending a couple of days in the comfort of a lovely home with his family, however.
- Overboard features a Rich Bitch who gets amnesia after she falls over the side of her yacht and almost drowns. A working class man she's insulted tries to enact a little revenge on her (and get her to do a little housework for him) by convincing her that she's his wife. Of course, this being a quirky Romantic Comedy, things don't go as planned...
- In Random Harvest (1942), Ronald Colman plays a World War I veteran hospitalized with shell shock and complete retrograde amnesia. He escapes from the hospital, marries Greer Garson, and settles down to a happy small-town life — until he makes a business trip to London, where he is involved in a car accident that causes him to recover his lost memories... but completely forget his entire life since the war, including his marriage.
- In Spider-Man 3, Harry Osborn has temporary amnesia after being badly injured during a fight with Peter Parker. It not only results in rather convenient selective memory loss, but also changes Harry's personality substantially. In the comics, similar tactics were used on occasion to make Norman Osborn forget that he was the Green Goblin.
- In Resident Evil, both Alice and Spence Parks lose their memories of their past lives as a side effect of being rendered unconscious by sleep gas. They regain at least some of their memories by the end of the movie.
- In Resident Evil: Afterlife Clair now has amnesia but is slowly regaining memories as the plot advances. Presumably everybody fitted with the control bug also don't have a clue who they are, were they are, or what's going on.
- In The Muppets Take Manhattan, right after Kermit finds out that the production is a go, he gets hit by a car, and he loses his memory. He regains it as a result of Miss Piggy throwing him against a wall.
- Parodied in The Truman Show, when Truman's father's inconvenient reappearance after being McLeaned is to be explained as down to amnesia. When he admits this, the director looks suitably shame-faced.
- At the beginning of Dark City, Murdoch wakes up in a room with a murdered woman and Easy Amnesia . Somewhat justified because the Strangers were constantly removing and re-inserting new memories into their human test subjects.
- Clean Slate is about a detective in the middle of a big case when an injury leaves him with a unique form of amnesia: every time he goes to bed, he wakes up with without his memory. This leads him to leave various notes and messages to himself to clarify his situation until he recovers, while still trying to crack the case.
- In American Dreamer, the main character has a concussion and thus thinks she's the heroine of her favorite mystery novels.
- In Snow White and the Three Stooges, Prince Charming gets hit on the head when an assassin was trying to kill him (but the Stooges saved him). He grew up without knowing his past.
- Alien. After Kane wakes up from having the Facehugger attach itself to his face, he can't remember anything about the planet, and even seems confused where he is. All he can remember is a horrible dream about smothering. Fridge Brilliance on why the victim can't remember being attacked by the Facehugger: anyone who was already aware what the things were all about would kill anyone who confessed to being Facehugged.
- A plot device in The Majestic: Pete Appleton, a Hollywood writer, gets branded as a communist. Appleton gets drunk and loses most of his memory in a car accident, and the people who rescue him mistake him for Luke Trimble, a soldier who went missing in action during the war, causing him to create an accidental false identity. His memory returns when he sees one of his own films.
- The killer in The Mystery of Mary Celeste loses his memory of past events when an errant boom hits the back of his head. Since he's the sole living person left in the ship, he is left confused and ultimately jumps overboard.
- In Fast & Furious 6, Letty is revealed to have survived her supposed death in Fast 4 but has been suffering amnesia ever since and cannot remember who she is nor her relationship with Dom nor even her own team. Owen Shaw exploits this to make Letty pull a Face–Heel Turn and betray her friends and family to join his team. Fortunately, by the end of the film, Letty regains her memory and makes a Heel–Face Turn.
- Averted with the five men in Unknown (2006) who wake up with no memories of who they are or how they got there due to an unspecified chemical. They slowly recover memories, but only in disjointed ways as they encounter sensory experiences which jolt their memory.
- Used as a plot device in Open Grave. The story revolves around a group that has lost all their memories, they manage to remember everything by interacting with certain items.
- At first played straight in Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant, when the Patient of the Week is a young woman who has had a sudden and total onset of amnesia but otherwise is perfectly fine. Inverted in the end, when it turns out she's faking it to get out of her marriage.
- Men in Black—The titular Men have a device that can cause amnesia of varying lengths more or less at will, and they often "helpfully" provide their victims with a more mundane explanation of what they witnessed so that they go off with new (false) memories rather than a blank. In the first movie, Kay does it to Laurel so many times that Jay gets worried about the state of her brain.
- Invoked in the Korean film Lost and Found. The heroine gets hit by the car of her crush, and she pretends to have amnesia so that he'll have to let her stay at his home. The doctor at the hospital points out that this kind of amnesia usually only happens on TV. Later on when the man starts to suspect she's lying, she's hit in the head by a baseball and then claims the blow brought her memory back.
- In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Harry sedates the barkeeper after the Bar Brawl with a Poison Arrow labeled "Amnesia".
- One act of murder causes Victoria to lose almost all her memory in Love Letters.
- Zigzagged by The Heroes of Olympus, a fantasy series by Rick Riordan. Both Jason and Percy have their memories stolen by Hera/Juno, but get them back a few days after joining the other camp of demigods. Jason joins the Greeks almost immediately after waking up with amnesia, but only gets most of his memories back at first. The rest take presumably months to return. Percy wakes up with and spends roughly two months with only the faintest memory of Annabeth and little else, but gets all of his memory back pretty much all at once. While this is appropriate, as Jason needed time to learn to trust the Greeks while Percy’s Fatal Flaw allowed him to trust the Romans quickly, YMMV as to whose amnesia was easier. Percy's memories returning quickly was also partly caused by his drinking gorgon's blood.
- Older Than Feudalism: The Recognition of Shakuntala, an episode from the Ancient Sanskrit epic Mahabharata that was later Expanded into a theatrical drama by the Indian playwright Kalidasa around the 1st century BC, is probably the Ur-Example of this trope. It's a Girl Meets Boy story about a woman named Shakuntala who meets Dushyanta and they get married him, only for him to get cursed with Amnesia and completely forget her. The only way to lift the curse is to show him the ring that he gave her, but she loses the ring in a river. She eventually finds the ring by the end of the story, makes him remember, and then they live Happily Ever After.
- The hero of Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Monster Men suffers from amnesia, allowing him to be taken for a result of the Mad Scientist's experiment.
- In Fred Saberhagen's The Frankenstein Papers, it turns out that Frankenstein's creature was actually an alien who'd been struck with amnesia while investigating the electrical activity in Frankenstein's lab: amnesia is a typical side-effect of exposure to high voltages in his species, and the lab's equipment wasn't properly insulated.
- "Jason Bourne", in Robert Ludlum's Bourne Trilogy and the movies loosely based on them, forgets his name and past, but instinctively remembers his superspy/assassin training. It is revealed that the conditioning he received in Project Treadstone made him a psychological accident waiting to happen. In the film, the amnesia is triggered by a psychotic break, several gunshot wounds, and nearly drowning; in the novel, it was being shot several times including once in the head, being cast adrift in a stormy sea for several hours, and lingering in a prolonged near-death state.
- Gene Wolfe's Soldier of the Mists, Soldier of Arete, and Soldier of Sidion feature an ancient warrior who, every night, loses his memory of the day before. He also has visions of various gods. Though the characters view him as cursed by the gods, he had suffered a head injury and it is a known form of amnesia.
- The character Tzigone from the Forgotten Realms Counselors and Kings trilogy has this. It turns out her wizard mother deliberately wiped her memory just before she was captured by her enemies, so that Tzigone wouldn't go looking for her and get herself killed. Her memory comes back gradually over the course of the novels.
- Jame, the protagonist of P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, cannot remember anything from when she was seven years old until when she was seventeen. Some details have resurfaced, but five years later, most still remains gone. It's likely the amnesia is magical in nature, though its exact cause is as yet unknown.
- Occurred in a Super Special of The Baby-Sitters Club, when Mallory came across a woman asking random by-standers if anyone knew who she was. She ended up regaining her memory in about a week, tops.
- Happens to Jimmy, the apprentice Michael and Fisk bring with them as a witness in the Knight and Rogue Series to prove that they weren't responsible should a fire start. The initial mob that appears when a building does, as they suspected, catch fire, not only ignores Jimmy, but throws him into a wall, causing him to forget most of the previous day.
- Happens to Bran in A Song of Ice and Fire after taking a bit of a tumble from a high window. May be a more justified example than most: it's implied that his inability to remember the events immediately preceding his fall may be as much psychosomatic (it was a very traumatic injury) as physical.
- The trope is given a little jab in Isabel Cooper's No Proper Lady, when Simon plans to get around explaining where Joan came from by claiming she hit her head and lost her memory. Joan protests that amnesia doesn't work that way, to which Simon replies that nobody they're telling the story to is going to know any better.
- Done realistically in Caliban. Doctor Leving does suffer from traumatic amnesia from being violently assaulted, but it's limited to events shortly before being attacked. Which is exactly what Ariel wanted - for Doctor Leving to forget about needing to doublecheck the inventory records (What she had been doing when the attack took place) until she could arrange to alter the records to cover up the fact that Ariel a non-Three Law Compliant test robot that was intended to be destroyed after the tests were completed.
- In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom books, one consequence of magic is losing memories. You don't get them back, though.
- Blood Knight Rachel from Animorphs comes down with an unfortunate case of this in the first Megamorphs book, The Andalite's Gift. She gets better halfway through. It's really just an excuse to keep her out of the plot until then, and has no effect on the story.
- In John C. Wright's Count to the Eschaton, the Nymphs' culture made heavy use of nepenthe to keep everything happy and pleasant. Security forces would go fight down enemies and then imbide to keep their culture
- This trope gets referenced in a self-deprecatory joke in Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz Series, when the First-Person Smartass narrator after revealing a fake spoiler suggests that hitting yourself on the head with one of Brandon's Doorstopper novels would be a convenient way to forget about it.
- In Manning Coles' A Toast to Tomorrow British agent Tommy Hambledon gets amnesia and believes himself to be a German citizen. It takes fifteen years for his memory to return, by which time he's fairly well-known in the Nazi Party.
- Averted in Idlewild. Although the character does regain fragments of episodic memories, it's unclear how much of that he synthesizes from his interpretations of the evidence (especially given how positively he remembers his past). In the sequels it's made clear that he never fully recovers.
- The epitome of this trope occurs in Betrayed, when Neferet erases Zoey's memories and then she gets them back in the same chapter, after about only a page's worth of effort.
- The Relativity villain Master Blankard, who's in jail now but has no memory of what he's done to deserve being there.
- Karyl of The Dinosaur Lords suffers full-blown Identity Amnesia as a result of a blow to his helmet. It's suggested that the actual reason behind his amnesia is that the blow actually killed him, and this opens a whole new can of questions, starting with "how is he even alive?".
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Index remembers very little of her own life due to periodic mind-wipes by her magician caretakers, used to keep her photographic memory from overloading her already strained brain. Except that's just a lie to keep her under control.
- At the end of the first book, Touma gets all his memories wiped due to being hit in the head by a spell. The spell was originally meant to be lethal, but he negated it before it could do any more damage. It later turns out that he had another case of amnesia before this. When he was badly injured, Misaki (a telepath) used her power to anesthetize him. However, as a side effect, this somehow gave him retrograde and anterograde amnesia specific to her, and her only.
- In The President Vanishes by Rex Stout, a van which was delivering goods to the White House is suspected of being the vehicle used to abduct the president when its driver is found in a nearby park suffering from amnesia after a simple blow on the head.
- A particularly infamous example occurred in the first series of 24 where Teri goes into shock and forgets nearly everything about her life, only to recover suddenly a few hours later. It should be noted that the first series of 24 was much less tightly written than later ones, and the writers have admitted that they just needed a way to keep the character away from the action for a few episodes.
- In a nice nod to realism, though (and the only good quality about that sordid plotline), Teri gets amnesia after she gets out of a car parked on a narrow ledge, tells Kim to stay there while she tries to find help, and watches as the car goes rolling over the edge and explodes. One of the most common causes of retrograde amnesia is sheer brain-rending trauma that the sufferer feels primarily responsible for, so it's nice to see that happen instead of another coconut to the head.
- In one episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, Captain Archer actually gets anterograde amnesia. Earth is destroyed by the Xindi, and Archer has been unable to form any new memories for years. Every morning he wakes up and thinks it's the same day, when in reality it's about 13 years after the event. Of course, Dr. Phlox eventually cures him (it's due to a virus), but because it's a time-based virus, curing it in the present also cures it in the past; meaning Archer never lost his memory and Earth was never destroyed.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation:
- The typical "amnesia plot" was subverted in the episode "Future Imperfect". After an away mission goes awry, Commander Riker wakes up sixteen years in the future, with Doctor Crusher explaining that he has acquired a brain disease which has ravaged all memory of the intervening years since he contracted the infection during the away mission. This turns out to be an elaborate ruse - he's still in the present, and his mind is being probed to construct this future reality in the hopes that he will keep a lonely alien company.
- The episode "Thine Own Self" has Data getting amnesia while on a pre-industrial alien world. This at least is justified somewhat, since Data is an Android and thus his "memory loss" can be explained away as a malfunction.
- And yet another has the entire crew losing their memories as the result of a cunning plan by an alien intruder to have them help him make war on an enemy. Naturally, this leads to all kinds of hijinks and hilarious misunderstandings as the crew misinterpret their true roles on the ship.
- Yet another episode has them gradually discover they have amnesia after being led to believe they'd been knocked unconscious for 30 seconds and going through a wormhole. In actuality, they voluntarily had their memories of the previous day wiped, but failed to eliminate all the clues that indicated more time had passed.
- In the Angel episode "Spin the Bottle", all of the heroes lose their adult memories due to a magical spell, causing them to revert to their teenage selves. The title character then freaks out, partly because his teenage self is from about 1740 and partly because his adult self is a vampire.
- In an unusual exception, Jaime Sommers of The Bionic Woman suffered substantial amnesia (forgetting most of her life) as a result of the operating table resuscitation that launched her series — and never recovered from it.
- In a two-part episode of Diff'rent Strokes, Dad loses his memory after being in a car accident. He recovers by the end, though.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- In the episode "Tabula Rasa", all of the heroes lose their memories due to a magical spell. Gee, it's almost as if Buffy and Angel were produced by the same company or something.
- Exploited. After Xander Harris is possessed by hyenas, he tells Buffy and Willow he has no memory of it, but when Giles confronts him, he confesses that he was lying so he wouldn't have to talk about it. In Season 2 he inadvertently reveals he was lying.
- Jeremy Darling of Dirty Sexy Money fakes a case of this as a way to try to figure out how to get Nola out of a jam, which he is not supposed to know she is in.
- Jarod developed amnesia on an episode of The Pretender after a criminal he was going after turned out to have an accomplice, who whopped him in the head.
- Due South did this in its second season closer, and used it as an excuse for a Clip Show as Ray had to "remind" Fraser about their adventures. Gah.
- Michelle falls off a horse and gets amnesia in the final episodes of Full House.
- Lisa from Green Acres suffers an interesting case where she actually believes she's a different person with a very thorough backstory. She believes Oliver is her butler, expects her fiancé to pick her up for a date, and has amazing cooking skills. Since she is normally a Lethal Chef, Oliver is flabbergasted when she cooks muffins so light they drift slowly down to the plate when dropped. Finally, she instantly recognizes their neighbor Mr. Kimball and treats him normally, even though she can't correctly identify anyone else.
- Hannah Montana gives Jackson amnesia through what seems like a blow to the head, and Miley uses his memory loss to her advantage, convincing Jackson that he is her idea of the perfect older brother (Happiness in Slavery). Subverted when Jackson's amnesia turns out to be an even more epic Zany Scheme to remind Miley that she would miss her brother if he were any different (given nearly every episode ends with An Aesop of some variety, this is the Disney Channel after all, so this is just par for the course for the show).
- The BBC comedy series Ideal featured a call girl who is kidnapped with the intention of ransoming her off. The plan falls through, but during the ruckus she is hit on the head and suffers temporary amnesia. One character takes advantage of this by telling her that he's her boyfriend, and that he'll help her remember things. When her memory starts to return, she runs back to who she thinks is her genuine boyfriend, but he turns out to be her pimp. After being mistreated by him, she runs back to the man who had lied to her, seeking protection.
- On Little House on the Prairie, a boy fakes blindness after an accident, and Laura finds out but agrees keep quiet and let him tell his parents. Before he can do that, he falls off a horse and hits his head again, conveniently forgetting everything since the first accident. His parents and Doctor Baker just assume the second blow brought his sight back.
- Claire Littleton suffers this kind of amnesia after her mysterious kidnapping and return by the Others on Lost. Lampshaded by Sayid asking Jack if he's ever seen such a convenient case of amnesia in his medical practice, and Jack agreeing that it's unlikely and probably a sign of something more sinister. Season 2 reveals Claire's amnesia is partly due to blocking out trauma, but mostly because the Others kept her heavily drugged the whole time they had her. How the Others achieved this isn't really explained until a bonus feature on the Season Six DVD, in which a DHARMA orientation film reveals that Room 23 was used to brainwash captured Hostiles and remove all memory of their captivity.
- Daniel Faraday apparently had anterograde amnesia before coming to the island. This was eventually explained as a side effect of his experiments, which involved sending his own consciousness briefly into the future.
- In Season Six, Sun suffers from a convenient bump on the head that renders her unable to speak English for several episodes.
- In one episode of Married... with Children, Peggy bumps her head and gets amnesia. Al tricks her into believing that she was a good housewife. Thelma does the same to Naomi on Mama's Family.
- MacGyver (1985) became an amnesiac several times as a result of blows to the head. Given that he's knocked unconscious at least once an episode, he's lucky that's the worst he ever got.
- In the second season The Man From Uncle episode "The Nowhere Affair", Napoleon Solo, facing imminent capture by a pair of THRUSH mooks, takes "Capsule B", a drug which induces "total amnesia" for a period of at least 72 hours.
Illya Kuryakin: Just how effective are these capsules, total amnesia?
Alexander Waverly: Oh, I daresay he'll still be able to count up to ten in Swahili, or conjugate a few simple Latin verbs, but he'll not be able to remember a thing about U.N.C.L.E., or have the remotest idea who he is, for at least 72 hours, by which time the information will be in our hands... I hope.
- And in the third season episode "The Pieces of Fate Affair", the innocent-of-the-week suffers partial amnesia when she's grazed in the head by a bullet during a THRUSH assassination attempt.
- Hilariously lampshaded in an episode of the The Middleman, where a guy that the heroine recently met and had become fond of suffers a concussion during one of her missions, and consequently develops amnesia that conveniently causes him to forget the past 2 days.
- Ed the horse gets amnesia on Mister Ed, forcing Wilbur to fake having it as well so he can use whatever cure is tried on him on Ed.
- Night and Day's Jane Harper was lumbered with this on her much-anticipated return to Thornton Street towards the end of the show’s run, in order to string out the mystery of her disappearance right up until the finale.
- The entire plot of Samantha Who?.
- After a car crash in the S Club 7 Christmas Special, Paul gets amnesia, which is later cured by watching another patient at the hospital crash his wheelchair. Hannah is also left unable to speak correctly for a time due to the crash.
- Cameron in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles gets a kind of this in Alison from Palmdale. Her 'amnesia' is caused by a faulty chip however.
- Rachel McKenna from Shortland Street lost her memory and underwent a total personality change when she was struck by lightning. After several weeks all it took was a simple electric shock from a lamp to get her memory and her old personality back. Only now she couldn't remember anything that happened when she suffered from the amnesia.
- Smallville: One Story Arc doesn't use this trope. Lex Luthor, through his father's machinations, is given permanent amnesia through electroshock at a crooked psych ward, causing him to forget both his father's evil dealings and Clark's secret identity. Is also an example of Laser-Guided Amnesia, since it's convenient to the plot. That said Smallville has a lot of Easy Amnesia. 90% of the cast, Clark Kent included, ought to be suffering from severe head trauma by now. If someone sees Clark using his powers, especially in the early seasons, you can bet they'll get an instant bonk on the head to forget that. The bludgeoning might not even be needed, but although psychological shock is more likely to trigger something like this, they don't show any other signs of it. There's a vaccine: "If you learn Clark's secret and don't forget it immediately, you are henceforth immune to amnesia". Or you die.
- Soap has a classic case of this with Chester forgetting who he was and only slowly recovering. For a while he thought his name was Chester Plate instead of Tate.
- An episode of Stargate SG-1 has Vala hooked up to a device meant to probe her memory. When a zat sends a power surge through it, she loses all knowledge of who she is (but apparently gains enough knowledge of Earth customs to pass unnoticed).
- Once Upon a Time has this in Belle's backstory. She and her mother were attacked by the ogres and Belle blacked out - so she has no memory of her mother's death. Rather realistically, she's never shown regaining the memories (though she attempts to do so by magic) and simply gets the event explained to her by her father.
- David in Coronation Street shoves his mother down the stairs after finding out she convinced his girlfriend to abort their baby. Gail develops amnesia after the event and is temporarily led to believe that she just fell down the stairs. A few years later David himself spontaneously develops epilepsy - resulting in black-out periods where he can't remember what he's done.
- Parodied in Sabrina the Teenage Witch's "As Westbridge Turns", an Affectionate Parody of the Soap Opera. Harvey is hit in the head with a falling ladder and can't remember who he is. Libby manages to convince him that she is his girlfriend - but his memory gets jogged with a bracelet he gave Sabrina, commemorating their relationship.
- Stargate Atlantis has a rare example of both: Everyone in Atlantis except Ronon and Teyla gets not only retrograde amnesia, but also loses their newly formed memories every few minutes. It's caused by a common childhood disease similar to chicken pox that humans never encountered before and therefore isn’t immune to.
- There's another episode where team member "Michael" wakes up in the hospital with absolutely no memory of who he is, and the other main characters assure him that it's a temporary amnesia that will probably get better with time... except it won't, because Michael is actually a biological experiment designed to turn Wraith into humans, and he has no memory of his life as a Wraith. He eventually discovers the truth, and the shit hits the fan.
- Subverted on Starsky & Hutch; after a car accident, Hutch apparently has amnesia, which is used as an opportunity for a Clip Show as Starsky reminds him of their past. Near the end of the show, it turns out that Hutch is fine; he's just taking revenge on Starsky for his reckless driving.
- In Weird Science practically every episode ends with Lisa handing out free Laser-Guided Amnesia for all implicated parties except for the main characters of course. Subverted when Lisa couldn't wipe Chett's memory because he developed a brain callous out of the absurd number of times his memory has been edited.
- Wonderfalls, in a late-season arc, subverted it: Heidi Gotts gets bumped on the head and decides to fake amnesia precisely because so many people think it works this way.
- Gibbs suffers a two-part amnesia arc after being blown up in the third season finale of NCIS. It's mostly an excuse to drag out the search for the bad guy while still allowing Gibbs to be conscious in many scenes. Also, to make Ziva cry. In an ironic twist, a bonk to Ziva's head (courtesy of the Gibbs slap) triggers some of his memories.
- The Mentalist
- Jane loses his memory after he almost drowns.
- Used in the episode "Red Badge" when Lisbon loses the memory of what happened in a certain night near a crime scene note and fakes a breakdown afterwards to trick the killer to confess when reliving the moment. He told them about a cross that was on the inside of the door, somewhere that only the killer could see.
- In the Fraggle Rock episode "Boober Gorg", Boober loses his memory after being hit on the head by a falling rock, and begins thinking he's a Gorg. The Gorgs are actually fooled too, but only because there were rumors of a sorcerer roaming the area and one of them coincidentally going missing, leading the Gorgs to jump to the wrong conclusion...
- Monk once got temporary amnesia from a blow to the head. In the episode, his therapist did acknowledge that that kind of amnesia is quite rare.
- The Castle episode "The Fifth Bullet" featured a case of this. Possibly subverted in that the character in question never recovers.
- Subverted on Kenan & Kel. When the two go to the airport to pick up Kenan's friend's girlfriend, they accidentally hit her on the head. When she wakes up, she claims she doesn't have a boyfriend and leaves. Hilarity Ensues as they try to find her and get her back. In the end, it turns out they got the wrong girl. It was also lampshaded when Kel attempts to get her memory back by hitting her a second time.
- The Addams Family episode "Amnesia in the Addams Family" is entirely about this.
- The "Angels Revenge" episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 opens with Crow believing he has amnesia, and asking Mike to "clear it up" by hitting him on the head with a large wooden mallet.
Mike: So, Crow, about this amnesia of yours...
Crow: Oh, it's terrible, Mike. The list of things I can't remember is endless! I can't remember you, I can't remember Cambot, I can't remember Fisk's home run off the foul pole in the bottom of the 12th in Game Six of the '75 World Series!
Servo: [working a crossword puzzle] Okay, 'Mythical beast', eight letters, beginning with...
- The Fugitive episode "Escape Into Black" has Richard Kimble getting amnesia from an exploding stove, making him forget he's a wanted felon and thus vulnerable to capture.
- The UnSub in the Criminal Minds episode "Tabula Rasa" got amnesia after falling off a building and being put into a coma for three years.
- An I Dream of Jeannie episode has Jeannie getting amnesia from a bump on the head, and forgetting that she's a genie.
- In another episode, Tony bumps his head and forgets that Jeannie is a genie. He almost marries her, but another bump makes him recover.
- Peter spends most of season two of Heroes running around Ireland without his memory. He gets it back around the time he rejoins the main plot thread of the season. In this case, the amnesia was the result of the Haitian using his Mind Wipe ability on him.
- Used in an episode of My Name Is Earl. Earls old buddy Sweet Johnny (cause he’s the sweetest guy anyone knew) is convinced by Earl to keep doing dangerous stunts that leave him laid up... so Earl can bang his girlfriend. After twice trying to confess, he finds out it wasn't his fault. Johnny bashed his head into a drawer, which resets his memory to the same day every time. Slightly subverted as there is no magic fix. After trying to kill himself, Johnny simply knocks himself out, resetting his memory once again. Earl finally resigns to the fact that this is the one list item he can never cross off. He circles it instead.
- Are You Being Served?: Subverted in the episode "Memories Are Made of This;" Mrs. Slocombe gets hit on the head with a golf ball, and uses the opportunity to pretend to have lost all her memories past the age of 5 so she can get a free coat.
- An episode of Human Target has the client lose his memory in a car bombing incident right as the team was about to meet him. Thus, they know almost nothing about him except that he's being targeted for murder, which is one more thing than he knows.
- In the Lois & Clark episode "All Shook Up", Clark attempts to destroy an asteroid heading for Earth by ramming into it, only to fall back to Earth and lose his memory. The asteroid is delayed on its mission due to destroy all life on Earth in a few days, but Superman didn't get it sufficiently pushed off its course — and he's nowhere to be found. Everyone wonders where their hero is, including the amnesiac Clark. His parents try to explain to him that he is Superman. His dad succeeds by trying to hit Clark with a bat and having it shatter. He can't re-learn to fly in a few days, though. Eventually, just as all seems lost, he regains his memory and pushes the asteroid out of the way. Like a number of Lois and Clark episodes, this is based on the 1950s television series with George Reeves. This one is from the 1953 episode "Panic in the Sky".
- In the Knight Rider episode "Knightmares", Michael loses the last few years of his life. This is particularly stressful for him given that in that time he's acquired a) a completely new identity b) a new face and c) a partner who's a talking car.
- The Legend of Dick and Dom has an episode, "Forget Me Nuts", where all the characters (including a mysterious one we have not seen before) wake up with no memory and have to try and work out who they are, what happened, and what they need to do next. By the end, they have managed to get the Big Bad to lose his memory too, and convinced him that he is a travelling sandal saleswoman. And then the narrator loses his memory.
- In the Andromeda episode "Music of a Distant Drum" Tyr gets this from some Nano Machines, his Nietzschean immune system eventually fights them off but in the meantime he becomes somewhat attached to the fisherwoman who finds him.
- Happens to Cousin Larry on Perfect Strangers after he falls down the stairs. Hilarity Ensues.
Balki: Hello, My name is Cousin Larry Appleton.
- Balki coaching Cousin Larry on how to introduce himself...
Larry: Hello, My name is Cousin Larry Appleton.
Balki: How are you?
Larry: [in a sad tone] Fine.
- Cole on Tracker recovers his memories fairly quickly in "Remember When". He lost them when he was zapped while working on his life force collector machine. Like the Due South example, it was an excuse for a clip show.
- Averted with CSI: NY. Mac has a kind of amnesia called aphasia due to his being shot in the back. He remembered most things but forgot random everyday words. It took several months for him to recover, though he's nearly there now.
- Averted on Chuck. In the series finale, Sarah's memory is virtually destroyed by the faulty Intersect 3.0 after she is captured by Quinn and forced to Flash repeatedly, which he then uses to brainwash her into working for him. Even after the team helps her throw off Quinn's influence, there is no way to restore her memory again after Chuck uploads the sole remaining copy of the Intersect himself to save a theater full of people from being blown up by a bomb. Although there are fragments of memories remaining that strongly imply she could eventually recover some of what she lost, the series still ends on a somewhat ambiguous note over her future.
- Happens to the Governor in one episode of The Slammer.
- In Vazelina Hjulkalender, Santa gets Easy Amnesia from hurting his head in the sledge crash. The injury didn't cause any permanent damage. In fact, it didn't even knock him unconscious.
- Averted on Magnum, P.I.. In "Try to Remember", Thomas isn't just bopped on the head. He is in a terrible accident in the middle of a missing persons case, and has a serious concussion among various other injuries. When he wakes up, he has no difficulty remembering who he is, but not what happened immediately prior to the wreck, and he is the prime suspect in the murder of the woman he was supposed to find.
- Something similar happens in the Batman series with King Tut, an archaeology professor who gained a Napoleon Delusion after a bump to the head. Being knocked on the head again restores his sanity and true personality, but sadly for him, he tends to relapse (and make return appearances) just as easily.
- ALF gets it after a bump on the head note and thinks he's an insurance agent named Wane Shlaygil (he was reading insurance brochures right before the bump), triggering the Flashback Episode.
- Harry from 3rd Rock from the Sun gets it after getting sucked into a tornado. Not from the crash, but from a flower pot falling on his head. Which leads to him finding out that Aliens Among Us, but not knowing he's one of them. He gets better after getting hit by a lightning bolt. The lightning cure might be justified with the chip in his head.
- The New Avengers: A variant in "To Catch a Rat". A agent suffering crippling injuries in an attempt on his life and loses all of his memories. Unlike most uses of this trope, his memory stays gone for 17 years. The Easy Amnesia comes into play when a blow to his head (from a child's swing) restores his memory instantly.
- In the Shining Time Station episode, "Stacy Forgets Her Name", Stacy Jones loses her memory after sniffing some flowers Mr. Conductor had sprinkled with a "Forgetting Dust" in order to shoo away some bees. Her nephew, Dan, and Mr. Conductor help jog her memory, and she makes a full recovery after taking a nap.
- Sisters. Second-oldest sister Teddy doesn't remember anything about her life after being shot in the head. But within one episode that only takes place over several days, she regains her memory and never again suffers any ill effects from her injury.
- Subverted on most soap operas. While characters being injured and not remembering anything about their past life is a very common plot, the recovery is somewhat realistic—occurring over a period of time, with intermittent flashbacks.
- Completely averted with General Hospital's Jason Quartermaine after he suffered brain damage in a car accident. When he woke up not remembering anything about his life beforehand, viewers naturally assumed this trope would play out. Only for him to never remember anything and adapt a completely new identity as Jason Morgan.
- The whole point of Blindspot is a woman being found in a large bag in Times Square, her body covered in fresh tattoos and her completely lacking in memory. The doctor examining her explains that her body was flooded with an experimental drug capable of causing temporary memory loss. She eventually starts getting flashes of her past. It turns out she agreed to the procedure as part of a highly complex Batman Gambit by her adoptive terrorist mother. In Season 2, she zaps her brother with the same drug, but he only gets a single dose and eventually recovers all his memories, extremely pissed at her.
- In the early 1990s, after suffering a powerbomb onto a concrete floor from Vader, Mick Foley had planned to take some time off and return to WCW in a 'revenge' feud, in which he would use the very real injuries he'd suffered at Vader's hands over the years to take their rivalry to new and realistic levels. The Booker in WCW at the time, Dusty Rhodes, had a better idea - Foley's character, Cactus Jack, would suffer amnesia from the impact of the powerbomb! This led to the ludicrous 'Search for Cactus Jack' skits, where Paul Heyman scoured America for clues to Jack's whereabouts, eventually finding him living homeless, clean-shaven and eyebrow-less, convinced he was a merchant seaman of some kind. The segments were so bad that WCW dropped them quietly - Foley returned to WCW with his memory recovered and no explanation was ever given as to how.
- Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Conklin's Plaque begins with Mrs. Davis telling Miss Brooks how her sister Angela received amnesia after a blow on the head. Angela recovered after received a second blow.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who radio drama Orbis, the Doctor has amnesia ... Sort of. Mostly it's because he's started to forget things that happened before his six hundred year stint on Orbis; however, he still remembers Earth, the TARDIS, and the events that led to his living on Orbis (He was pulled off the edge of a balcony into a gigantic canyon by Morbius.) Oddly, though Lucie was present during that event, he doesn't remember her at all. In the end it's a combination of time (e.g.: a few hours) and Lucie slapping him across the face several times that brings his memory back.
- Too Many Cooks surprisingly averts this. Mickey develops both anterograde and retrograde amnesia which is still unresolved by the end of the show.
- In BIONICLE, Takua has suffered permanent amnesia three times. The first was due to his being kidnapped and brainwashed for his own protection, the second was a result of his entire city having induced amnesia, and the third was just good ol' head trauma.
- Exception: Super Robot Wars Alpha 2 has Ibis Douglas, who lost her memories due to a jet fighter crash and some severe repression before the story starts. She's a terrible pilot, and some assume she must've been a great pilot before she got amnesia. As later events reveal, she was actually even worse. Since she's a main character though, she later does turn into a great pilot.
- Justified in Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does A Little Undercover Work, the fourth game in the Leisure Suit Larry series: At the start of the game, Larry, being a character in a computer game, has completely forgotten the events of his previous adventure, Leisure Suit Larry 4: The Missing Floppies, because the villain has stolen the game disks.
- In reality, Leisure Suit Larry 4 never even existed, as the third game's ending didn't lend itself to a sequel and the designers decided to skip straight to the fifth game, letting players come up with their own theories on the events of Leisure Suit Larry 4.
- There's also the fact that Al Lowe promised there'd never be a fourth game of the series, due to some of the negative reactions garnered by the series. He kept his promise, too...
- The game was indeed created, but was flushed down a toilet by Roger Wilco in Space Quest IV. This temporal paradox caused the game to never be published.
- In reality, Leisure Suit Larry 4 never even existed, as the third game's ending didn't lend itself to a sequel and the designers decided to skip straight to the fifth game, letting players come up with their own theories on the events of Leisure Suit Larry 4.
- Double H in Beyond Good & Evil gets Easy Amnesia not from a whack on the head, but from prolonged exposure to alien lightning. It temporarily renders him a Cloud Cuckoolander with what appears to be an action movie hero complex and a tendency to mangle names. He recovers after a boss battle that requires you to use his head as a battering ram several times, which is something of the inverse of how this trope usually works...
- In Vandal Hearts, character Eleni has this as a result of having been sent traumatically back in time as a young child; the character recovers her memory after seeing herself sent back.
- In the second expansion set for World of Warcraft, Muradin Bronzebeard is revealed to have been knocked out and given amnesia instead of being killed, which completely destroys the dramatic purposes of his death.
- The strangest part is that there's no discernible reason for this. Yorg Stormheart could have been a completely new character and it wouldn't have made a lick of difference to the plot so far, save for some Back Story told to the PC to liven up a long period in one quest in which nothing much happens.
- Subverted (kinda) in Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Johnny lost his memory and hasn't gotten it back by the start of the game. Subverted in that he got from an accident that killed his entire family. Maybe a Self-Defense Mechanism? Or maybe a side effect of being brought back from the dead.
- Largely averted in Final Fantasy VI; there are precisely two cases of amnesia, and neither one is easily received or easily fixed. Terra's amnesia is explicitly magical, stemming as it does from years of wearing a Slave Crown. Any memories she gets back after that tend to be hazy and less than useful, and while she does make a full recovery, that too is magical. Rachel suffers a far more mundane case of amnesia, that comes about from a serious fall. The entire affair is hugely tragic, and she doesn't recall anything about who she was or who Locke is until her final moments.
- In Flashback, at least part of the plot is about getting your memory back, after having it erased by aliens. Later, you find you uploaded your memory and left it with a friend just in case something like this happened.
- One of the sidequest in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door involves hitting someone in the head with a hammer so that they can remember something they forgot earlier. It works, and it's hilarious. Doubly so if you accidentally hit him one time too many and he forgets it again.
- In Cave Story, a pair of Ridiculously Human Robots loses their memories, but it's hardly easy. It's implied that both of them contracted amnesia after getting battered in an epic fight that happened in the backstory; one of them loses the few memories she has left after recovering from nearly drowning. A mushroom restores her memories completely; the other bot only regains a select few of his memories (and even this is arguable) and mostly relies on the word of others for information about his past.
- Averted in Secret of the Scarlet Hand: a witness suffers amnesia after a bad fall, and Nancy Drew must collect once-familiar items from his workplace and show them to him in the hospital to help him gradually re-connect with his old memories.
- Final Fantasy V has Galuf, a king from another planet and powerful warrior who's had quite a bit of experience fighting the Big Bad get amnesia within the first five minutes as a result of a meteor crash (he was piloting it). All he is able to remember is his name. Not that it keeps him from hurling himself headlong into the quest.
- Averted in Megaman Legends. Roll declines to reveal to "Joe" that she's his daughter because she knows he'll never be the man he was again and wants him to be happy with the new family he has on Calinca Island & spare him the pain of knowing that not only is his first wife dead, but the thing that killed her is taking her body for a ride.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link discovers that Ilia his best friend, suffers from this as a result of being shot with a poisoned arrow when she and the other village children were kidnapped.
- In Pokémon, a move called Amnesia (Japanese: Memory Lapse) exists which raises the user's Special Defense (probably because it's less susceptible to attacks like Psychic). The Pokemon, however, doesn't forget/lose any moves, experience, or stats. In addition, if you switch out with a move like Baton Pass, the new Pokemon gets the bonus stats. Your Pokemon apparently recovers after switching out, fainting, moves like Haze, or otherwise ending the battle, so yes, it is truly Easy Amnesia.
- Every Rune Factory protagonist so far, except for the second of the second game. Raguna's memories are seemingly gone for good, Micah only gets some of his back and Kyle seems to get his back in full, but we're never told who he really is. Aden and Sonja in Rune Factory Oceans break this trend, being the first Rune Factory protagonists not to lose their memories. Lest and Frey picked up the thread in Rune Factory 4, though.
- Averted Up to Eleven in Persona 4: The Death Social Link, Hisano Kuroda, is a widow whose husband recently died of what was pretty obviously Alzheimer's. As in the real world, he only got worse until he finally died, as Hisano bitterly relates.
- In Sonic Heroes, after his fall from outer space in Sonic Adventure 2, Shadow got amnesia and can’t even remember his own name. He can only remember one major thing in Shadow the Hedgehog. Also this is a major point in the plot of the aforementioned titular game.
- This becomes one of the major plot points in Puyo Puyo 20th Anniversary. The previous game's Omnicidal Maniac, Ekoro got a case of amnesia after being defeated. He regains his memory at the end, and decides to go back to space-time travelling, albeit being upset that everyone will forget him most likely, and everyone does... Except Ringo.
- In Raffine's ending in Puyo Pop Fever, Ms. Accord tricks Raffine into closing her eyes, so that Ms. Accord can hit Raffine on the head with a hammer, causing Raffine to suffer a bump on her head when she wakes up and lose her memory about the flying cane.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening the Player Character is found by the Chrom, Lissa, and Frederick in the middle of a field with no memory of his/her past life. Notably, when the Avatar tries to explain this, Frederick is doubtful and suspects them of hiding something.
- Isabelle from Advance Wars: Days Of Ruin is found in the rubble of a city suffering from amnesia or so you think. It's later subverted when you learn she's a recently created Artificial Human who has no memories to begin with, just a butt-load of information about the two countries in the game.
- The main character in the first Enigmatis installment loses her memory just before the game's story starts, spending the rest of the plot trying to figure out what her investigation had previously uncovered.
- When the Driver of a Blade in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 dies, said Blade reverts back to a Core Crystal, and, upon resonating with a new Driver, retain no memories about their previous 'lives'. This is a cause of concern for many Blades, and, as Brighid notes, not many are in a position to chronicle their past lives as she does, since a Blade would have no means of preserving or protecting any such records while they're in their Core Crystal form.
- Fate/stay night has a rare example of anterograde amnesia in the Heaven's Feel route: Tapping into the power of Archer's left arm (which has been surgically grafted in place of his original arm) causes Shirou irreversible brain damage, leaving him increasingly unable to remember past events and causing him to be unable to write new memories. It is only through a constant effort of will that he can remember events that happened hours or minutes ago.
- The series also contains a subversion: Archer claims not to know who he is as a result of Rin making errors in his summoning. This is a lie.
- In the first case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix gets clubbed on the head just before the trial, and (naturally) loses his memory. This makes a bit more sense when you realize the level is the tutorial of a sequel.
- The case also parodies the "cured by a second bump" aspect of the trope, by having Phoenix' client, as soon as she realizes the condition of her lawyer, try to get him back to normal just this way. Phoenix, of course, objects. He eventually recovers gradually in a much more realistic way, by triggering the memories with familiar inputs like holding a cross-examination.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Kay gets pushed off a building and gets hit with amnesia. Don't worry, she gets better, luckily.
- Featuring the rare mechanical deviation, Red Vs Blue: Recreation has already given us amnesia in real time:
Church: Uh oh.
Caboose: What? What happened?
Church: Crap. Instead of turning on my long-term memory, I think I just shut off my short-term memory.
Caboose: Oh. Is that bad?
Church: Huh? Is what bad?
Caboose: Your memory thing getting shut off.
Church: Who shut off my memory?
Caboose: You did.
Church: I did what?
Caboose: Shut off your memory.
Church: Why do you want me to shut off my memory?
Caboose: No, it's already off.
Church: What's already off?
Caboose: Your memory.
Church: Yeah what about it?
Tucker: Wow. Well, this is an improvement. HEY, YOU!
Church: Huh? You talkin' to me?
Tucker: YES, YOU! DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING ELSE!
Church: (to Caboose) Well, are you gonna answer him?
Caboose: Oh no!
Tucker: Jesus Christ!
Church: OH MY GOD, WHAT ARE WE YELLING ABOUT?
Tucker: I think they broke into the temple!
Church: (while inside said temple) Oh, that's not good, where's the temple?
Tucker: Jesus Christ, just don't let him talk to me!
Church and Caboose: Okay, don't talk to him!
- Wormtooth Nation might as well be Easy Amnesia: The Series. The titular wormtooth gas will "nix" anyone who breathes it in, and pockets of it are everywhere in the underground city.
- Nevy in Ava's Demon, subverted because she got her amnesia by drinking a potion that simultaneously killed her and bound her soul to the next thing to be born in the universe.
- In Sluggy Freelance, Bun-Bun has suffered from this twice. The first time was just temporary, where nearly dying in an explosion caused him to behave like an ordinary, non-talking bunny for several months. The second time, however, Bun-Bun actually met and beat up his past self. This gave past-Bun-Bun a nasty concussion and partial amnesia, leaving him vague about most of the details concerning his life before the start of the series.
- The kobold oracle in The Order of the Stick has a spell surrounding the area where he lives so that anyone who visits forgets everything except the answers to their questions upon leaving.
- In The Law of Purple, Myranian women can memtwist anyone they make skin-to-skin contact with. This allows them to absorb the victim's memories at the same time that they're erasing them. Shi Shi does this to Blue just before the start of the comic.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del uses this in one arc, as Ethan suffers from amnesia after being hit on the head with a computer box.
- Van's sidekick in Van Von Hunter is suffering from amnesia several times over. This is the given reason why nobody knows her name.
- In Oceanfalls, Nino seems to have forgotten everything just by falling down and hitting his head at the beginning.
- Sylvester suffers this at one point in The Mansion of E after being zapped by an ancient magical device. His memories start trickling back over the next couple of hours, before he's completely "repaired" by a local magic-user.
- In Sinfest, happens to Lil' Evil starting here. Justified, it's the Lethe. Yes, THAT Lethe.
- In Freefall, fixed by picking up the memory chip.
- An entire story arc involves Florence losing newly-formed memories as she tries to figure out what she's doing at Ecosystems Unlimited. This is caused by an injection that induces temporary anterograde amnesia by paralyzing the hippocampus.
- In Far Out, the main character is introduced as amnesiac. Or possible Really Was Born Yesterday. After a bit, the later choice is established as the truth.
- In Faux Pas, Stu didn't remember a bit around his Tap on the Head.
- Karin-dou 4koma: Shigure and Sachi remove Elza from Rindou's memory by smashing her in the head ten times with Shigure's golden hammer. (Rindou's a dragon, so she's got a pretty Hard Head.)
- Bruce Wayne goes undercover as an unemployed drifter in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series. He gets walloped in the head with a 2×4 and forgets both that he's Bruce Wayne and Batman. Fortunately for him, he doesn't forget how to fight like Batman.
- In an episode of The New Adventures of Superman, Clark similarly forgot he was Superman. His family were summoned and told him, but he didn't remember how to use any of his powers either.
- In an episode of The New Adventures of Batman, a professor who invented a water-powered car got a bump on the head when he was grabbed, causing him to temporarily forget what might cause his car to explode with the force of a nuclear bomb.
- Done in an episode of Chaotic, although probably justified, as it was caused by a plant that produces memory-erasing venom.
- Similarly, Code Lyoko uses memory-erasing nanobots in one episode.
- Kim loses her memory in the episode "Clean Slate" of Kim Possible, but her memories quickly begin returning with the exception of the fact that she's dating Ron. Her father uses her amnesia as a slightly ethically dubious way to get her to like his favorite TV show.
- Futurama took this to the extreme on the parody soap opera "All My Circuits" in the episode "Bender Should not be Allowed on TV".
- The Simpsons:
- Mentioned when Homer is about to box Drederick Tatum; Bart tells him to make sure he gets hit an even number of times to avoid amnesia.
- In the episode "Regarding Margie", Marge suffers from amnesia after the fumes from her cleaning products cause her to lose consciousness and hit her head on a stool. She remembers everyone in town after each speaks a word she normally associates with them...except her own husband, Homer. Her sisters, Selma and Patty, take advantage of this by setting her up on a date with another man, but ultimately Marge remembers Homer in the end, by beer.
- In Transformers Animated, it turns out that Ratchet hit Arcee with his EMP and it worked exactly like an Amnesia Ray, wiping her entire memory of everything. Alternatively, a smaller blast from the EMP has little effect other than a Knock-Out Ray.
- Zigzagged in one Underdog story where Simon bar Sinister's Forget-me-Net causes the hero to forget who he is and think's he's an apple peddler. When Sweet Polly realizes this, she and several citizens try to hit him over the head to cure him, but seeing as he's invulnerable, none of it works; even attempting it with a steam shovel only breaks the machine. Eventually, Polly accidentally invokes the flaw in Simon's device (which is simply, saying his name when he can hear it) and he snaps out of it.
- Zigzagged in an episode of Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. Chumley is hit on the head and thinks he's a rich businessman; once Tennessee finds out what's wrong with him, he takes the smart option for once, and attempts to take him to a doctor. However, Chumley resists his attempts, and after Hillarity Ensues, he knocks himself on the head again and is cured.
- There was an episode of Cow and Chicken involving amnesia being granted by inhaling steam, of all things.
- Spoofed in an episode of Stripperella where rival stripper Kat repeatedly discovers Stripperella's Secret Identity, only to constantly lose her memory of the event because she keeps getting hit in the head.
- On the Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "A Twist of Fate:", Wheeler hits his head during an earthquake, loses his memory, and he has to live the life of a poor child in an anonymous Latin-American city.
- The cartoon Christmas Special Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer features a rare example of anterograde amnesia in the titular grandma, though it's never identified as anything more than "she's lost her memory". Not only does she completely forget who she is, she doesn't seem to form any new memories either: her grandson has to keep reintroducing himself to her, and the villains can laugh over their evil scheme with her standing right there and not registering anything. All of this would seem to imply some serious brain trauma, but it's instantly undone by a bite of her famous fruitcake.
- One episode of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has Shredder lose his memory due to a head bonk. He wanders around the city, somehow gets a job at a fireworks factory, and bemusedly decides to detonate a bomb at city hall just For the Evulz. When the Turtles confront him, Shredder even remarks that "Shredder" is a stupid name, and he gets his memory back when Vernon gets in the way and causes an accident.
- It happens again in the episode "Four Musketurtles," but this time with Leonardo thinking he is in 17th century France and that he and his allies are Musketeers after a hit on the head. He gets better near the end of the episode after a fall.
- "Blast from the Past" has Splinter lose his memory, but regains it later on in the episode.
- A stock plot of Tom and Jerry cartoons: Tom takes a whack to the noggin, forgets he's supposed to hate Jerry and thinks he's a mouse himself. Hilarity Ensues and Tom keeps getting hit on the head and bouncing back and forth between personalities.
- Family Guy
- Taken to the extremes in the episode "Big Man on Hippocampus". Peter hits his head in a fight with Richard Dawson at Family Feud, and he develops amnesia. Then an [adult swim]-style Ad Bumper appears: "Yes, they're actually doing an amnesia story." He eventually regains his memory after the Giant Chicken hits him several times - luckily, as Peter notes, he had an odd number of objects. He not only forgets his identity, but he also seemed to forget what sex is!
- Another episode has a mass bout of this, as Peter, Brian, Joe and Quagmire all lose their memories in a car accident. However, the whole thing turns out to be a virtual reality simulation done by Stewie to see if Brian and Peter would still like each other without the pet/owner relationship. They do.
- The Banana Splits show segment The Arabian Knights, episode "The Coronation of Bakaar". This occurs when Farik is hit on the head by a crossbeam.
- Filmation Superboy episode "Forget Me Not, Superdog". Krypto the Superdog loses his memory when he's hit on the head by a Kryptonite meteor. He regains it when he's caught in an explosion.
- In Krypto the Superdog, Krypto gets amnesia from Red Kryptonite, leading to a pack of bad dogs to convince him that he's one of them. Luckily, Red Kryptonite's effects last only a day.
- In the South Park episode "Cow Days", Cartman falls off a bull, hits his head, and gets amnesia, which for some weird reason, makes him think that he's a Vietnamese prostitute named Ming Li.
- One episode of Donkey Kong Country, "Ape-Nesia", has DK lose his memory after slipping on a banana peel and bumping into the elevator which then falls down and crashes taking him with it. It gets worse when his enemies convince him that he's working for them. DK gets his memory back when Candy shoves DK into a coconut tree, causing DK to get hit on the head by multiple coconuts.
- On Hey Arnold!, Helga accidentally gets hit in the head with a baseball by the titular character. Though it wears off after a good night's sleep, she keeps the illusion going to get more attention from Arnold.
- In "Captain Who?" on Jake And The Neverland Pirates, Captain Hook catches a whiff of a "Forget-Me Flower" and it causes him to forget who he is. His memory is eventually restored by an encounter with his nemesis, Tic Toc Croc.
- In As Told by Ginger, Hoodsey develops amnesia after falling off a swing and landing on his head. He changes his name to "Rob" and becomes best friends with Brandon after deeming Carl too gross. It is treated a little more realistically since at the end of the episode, Hoodsey is shown still trying to recover his memories. He is shown to have made a full recovery by the next episode though.
- Dick Dastardly gets amnesia after a blow to the head in the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines episode "Who's Who?" He regains his facilities after suffering a similar blow, only for Zilly and Klunk to go through amnesia themselves after a similar blow.
- The Popeye cartoon "I Yam Wot I Yamnesia" takes this to ridiculous extremes. Popeye, Swee'Pea , Wimpy and Olive all get hit on the head by each other, but instead of losing their memories, they exchange personalities and voices which Wimpy diagnoses as being amnesia.
- A blow to the head gives Danger Mouse amnesia in "Public Enemy No. 1", and Greenback proceeds to brainwash him into thinking he's a criminal called "The White Shadow." DM regains his memory after slamming his head against the open bonnet of his car.
- The TaleSpin episode, "The Old Man and the Seaduck" had Baloo lose his memory of his flying skills. Thankfully, the cliche of the second bump on the head is avoided in the story and his memories return when a mysterious flight instructor reintroduces him to the joys of flying.
- Fred and Barney Meet the Thing had the Thing lose his memory in the Thing segment "The Thing Blanks Out", where the Thing lifted a bridge to prevent Ronald's yacht from crashing into it, only for the bridge to hit him hard on the head after he lets it go. He doesn't recover from his amnesia until an acorn falls on his head.
- The disappearance and reappearance of John Darwin is a subversion. He apparently faked his own death as part of an insurance scam, and then walked into a police station some years later claiming to have lost all memory of the intervening time. Needless to say, the true story didn't take long to emerge.
- A soccer/football player suffered a minor fall, and suffered severe retrograde amnesia.
- Similarly, college basketball player Kayla Hutcheson suffered a head injury during practice. A short time afterward, she had lost all of her memories up to that point.
- Very common in dreams. Barring the rare lucid dream, most people have no recollection of their real life circumstances while dreaming and easily accept even the most implausible events as "real."
- A girl in New York was found in October 2009 with no memory whatsoever of what happened or who she is. She was later identified as Kacie Aleece Peterson, a resident of Washington state.
- Those suffering from concussions often don't remember much from just before and a certain amount of time after being hit on the head, among other side effect. This is particularly jarring in car wrecks, where it is common for one person to honestly say that they have no memory after turning off the highway five minutes before, making assigning blame for the wreck difficult.
- People with epilepsy often have blank spaces in their memory from where their seizure began. They may also have blanks in their memory for several minutes after they wake up. Some of them can pinpoint it almost to the moment where the seizure began, since that is where the blank space in their memory is.
- As You Know, it's mostly hard to remember what happened while you were drunk or shortly before (particularly while the hangover kicks in), mostly due to brain damage.
- "Benjaman Kyle" is a very famous and very strange example. He "was found without clothing or identification and with injuries next to a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant in Georgia in 2004." There was evidence of blunt force trauma to his head, and he remembered very little about himself, including his name, his relatives, and how he ended up in Georgia. Despite an extensive and widely publicized search (aided by what should have been helpful details that he did remember, such as his birth date, and details about several places he'd lived), it took over 10 years to figure out who he was, and the breakthrough was made with genetic detective work rather than anyone recognizing him. His real name is William Burgess Powell. To this day he has very few memories of his past, while the ones he does have he is often unable to describe in words.